May is Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month in Australia, and as we consider the positions of corporations in light of domestic and family violence prevention we find ourselves considering the impact of the restrictions imposed due to COVID-19.
Family or domestic violence is violent, or threatening behaviour that causes the victim harm or to reasonably fear harm. For example, this might include things such as social isolation, financial control, stalking, intimidation, verbal abuse, harm to pets or property and physical abuse. The behaviour can be conducted not only by a spouse but also other family or household members such as parents or siblings.
In Australia employees (including part-time and casual employees) are entitled to 5 days unpaid family and domestic violence each year, though employees may elect to provide paid days of leave in relation to family and domestic violence. These leave days are above and beyond sick leave and other forms of personal leave.
Employers should also be aware it may not be a safe environment for employees to work from home. Employers in general have obligations to ensure that their employees work in a safe environment and should ensure they are discharging their obligations even in the midst of this national crisis. (For more information click here to access the Fair Work Ombudsman website.) For example, employers who know that their employees do not have safe work environments should attempt to make alternate arrangements were possible.
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This is not legal advice.